ABOU HASSAN EZ ZIYADI AND THE MAN FROM KHORASSAN

Quoth Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi, (60) 'I was once in very needy case, and the baker and grocer and other purveyors importuned me, so that I was in sore straits and knew of no resource nor what to do. Things being thus, there came in to me one day one of my servants and said to me, "There is a man, a pilgrim, at the door, who seeks admission to thee." Quoth I, "Admit him.'' So he came in and behold, he was a native of Khorassan. We exchanged salutations and he said to me, "Art thou Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi?" "Yes," answered I. "What is thy business?" Quoth he, "I am a stranger and am minded to make the pilgrimage; but I have with me a great sum of money, which is burdensome to me. So I wish to deposit with thee these ten thousand dirhems, whilst I make the pilgrimage and return. If the caravan return and thou see me not, know that I am dead, in which case the money is a gift from me to thee; but if I come back, it shall be mine." "Be it as thou wilt," answered I, "so it please God the Most High." So he brought out a leather bag and I said to the servant, "Fetch the scales." He brought them and the man weighed out the money and handed it to me, after which he went his way. Then I called the tradesmen and paid them what I owed and spent freely, saying in myself, "By the time he returns, God will have succoured me with one or another of His bounties." However, next day, the servant came in to me and said, "Thy friend the man from Khorassan is at the door."

Admit him," answered I. So he came in and said to me, "I had thought to make the pilgrimage; but news hath reached me of the death of my father, and I have resolved to return; so give me the money I deposited with thee yesterday." When I heard this, I was troubled and perplexed beyond measure and knew not what reply to make him; for, if I denied it, he would put me to my oath, and I should be shamed in the world to come; whilst, if I told him that I had spent the money, he would make an outcry and disgrace me. So I said to him, "God give thee health! This my house is no stronghold nor place of safe custody for this money. When I received thy leather bag, I sent it to one with whom it now is; so do thou return to us to-morrow and take thy money, if it be the will of God."

So he went away, and I passed the night in sore concern, because of his return to me. Sleep visited me not nor could I close my eyes: so I rose and bade the boy saddle me the mule. "O my lord," answered he, "it is yet but the first watch of the night." So I returned to bed, but sleep was forbidden to me and I ceased not to awaken the boy and he to put me off, till break of day, when he saddled me the mule, and I mounted and rode out, not knowing whither to go. I threw the reins on the mule's shoulders and gave myself up to anxiety and melancholy thought, whilst she fared on with me to the eastward of Baghdad. Presently, as I went along, I saw a number of people in front and turned aside into another path to avoid them; but they, seeing that I wore a professor's hood, followed me and hastening up to me, said, "Knowest thou the lodging of Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi ?" "I am he," answered I; and they rejoined, "The Commander of the Faithful calls for thee." Then they carried me before El Mamoun, who said to me, "Who art thou?" Quoth I, "I am a professor of the law and traditions, and one of the associates of the Cadi Abou Yousuf." "How art thou called?" asked the Khalif. "Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi," answered I, and he said, "Expound to me thy case."

So I told him how it was with me and he wept sore and said to me, "Out on thee! The Apostle of God (whom may He bless and preserve) would not let me sleep this night, because of thee; for he appeared to me in my first sleep and said to me, 'Succour Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi.' Whereupon I awoke and knowing thee not, went to sleep again; but he came to me a second time and said to me, 'Woe to thee! Succour Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi.' I awoke a second time, but knew thee not, so went to sleep again; and he came to me a third time and still I knew thee not and went to sleep again. Then he came to me once more and said, 'Out on thee! Succour Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi!' After that I dared not go to sleep again, but watched the rest of the night and aroused my people and sent them in all directions in quest of thee." Then he gave me ten thousand dirhems, saying, "This is for the Khorassani," and other ten thousand, saying, "Spend freely of this and amend thy case therewith, and set thine affairs in order." Moreover, he gave me yet thirty thousand dirhems, saying, "Furnish thyself with this, and when the day of estate comes round, come thou to me, that I may invest thee with an office."

So I took the money and returned home, where I prayed the morning-prayer. Presently came the Khorassani, so I carried him into the house and brought out to him ten thousand dirhems, saying, "Here is thy money." "It is not my very money," answered he. "How cometh this?" "So I told him the whole story, and he wept and said, "By Allah, hadst thou told me the truth at first, I had not pressed thee! And now, by Allah, I will not accept aught of the money; and thou art quit of it." So saying, he went away and I set my affairs in order and repaired on the appointed day to the Divan, where I found the Khalif seated. When he saw me, he called me to him and bringing forth to me a paper from under his prayer-carpet, said to me, "This is a patent, conferring on thee the office of Cadi of the western division of the Holy City (61) from the Bab es Selam (62) to the end of the town; and I appoint thee such and such monthly allowances. So fear God (to whom belong might and majesty) and be mindful of the solicitude of His Apostle (whom may He bless and preserve) on thine account." The folk marvelled at the Khalif's words and questioned me of their meaning; so I told them the whole story and it spread abroad amongst the people.'

And [quoth he who tells the tale] Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi ceased not to be Cadi of the Holy City, till he died in the days of El Mamoun, the mercy of God be on him!




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